There’s no stopping innovation

Saferoads continues to improve its research and design methodologies to develop efficient road safety products.Saferoads continues to improve its research and design methodologies to develop efficient road safety products.

If you visit Melbourne’s CBD often, chances are you’ll have passed an OmniStop Bollard. They’re the safety measures often found around tram stops, near construction sites and around shared vehicle and pedestrian areas.

They’ve saved lives by stopping vehicles entering areas they shouldn’t have access to and have proved effective.

Saferoads, the company behind OmniStop, has spent more than 25 years providing a range of methods to keep everyone, whether they’re a driver or pedestrian, safe on Australian roads.

Darren Hotchkin, Chief Executive Officer of Saferoads, says the company has been hard at work on research and development for new ways to improve public safety.

The company is one of the first to run complex computer simulations to test the designs of their prototypes before performing expensive physical tests.

“We run a finite element analysis software package which is able to simulate those crash tests. After looking at the data from the simulations, we’re able to see what works and what doesn’t work in the design and change it as needed,” Mr. Hotchkin says.

“This has helped enormously with our crash tests, as we can avoid very expensive testing which must be done in certified labs. With the software we have, we can put a barrier through all sorts of tests.

“It’s expensive to run a crash test and previously a test would be needed to test each prototype. By harnessing simulation data, we can make sure our physical tests are more successful.”

OmniStop Bollards have been on the market for more than 10 years, with new models being launched a year ago to provide a lower cost and higher performance product.

“They are found all over Australia and protect people from runaway road vehicles. They are designed to save lives,” Mr. Hotchkin says.

Saving lives 

Saferoads has recently been developing a new type of bollard that is able to be set up temporarily. Mr. Hotchkin says they will be able to protect events like Melbourne’s White Night or a music festival from vehicles, while not stopping the flow of pedestrians.

“The bollards have a heavy base which doesn’t impede movements for wheelchairs or prams. We’ve been using our simulation package to refine the design, so that once we have the computer letting us know it will work, we’ll be able to run a real test,” he says.

“It’s important to make them look subtle and decorative instead of looking like you’re walking into a maximum security jail. They’ll be able to be deployed without the general public realising they’re being protected.

“With the increase in rogue vehicle attacks, event organisers are looking for ways to make sure their attendees are safe. We’re innovating to ensure that the public are protected and can safely enjoy Australian cities.”

Another project the company has been developing is the HV2 Road Barrier, a free standing, temporary longitudinal barrier system which has been successfully crash tested to MASH TL-4.

Mr. Hotchkin says Saferoads’ simulation software saved significant time in designing and testing the HV2 prototypes.

“The HV2 barrier is capable of stopping any vehicle smaller than a 10-tonne truck travelling at 90 kilometres an hour. It’s the first and only barrier that’s been able to do that without needing to be anchored to the ground. It just needs to be set up on a worksite and it’s ready to go.”

Each barrier is 2088 kilograms with an overall length of 5.85 metres. The average trailer is able to transport nine to 11 at a time. With a four-person crew and tight delivery schedule, 1000 metres of HV2 can be deployed in a single shift.

Finding a niche

Another product that Saferoads has developed after looking at feedback from the industry is a concrete based portable solar light.

Mr. Hotchkin says Saferoads performs market research for their customers’ needs and develop products from scratch to meet their requirements.

“With the increase in technology for lithium batteries, we have been able to make totally independent solar lights. Because they’re portable, they lend themselves to being used as an environmentally friendly, safe alternative for road construction, security yards and any other construction site,” he says.

Saferoads originally launched a non-portable version of the light before developing a concrete base to fulfil a need in the market. Mr. Hotchkin says they’ve been developed to make sure they are compliant with Australian wind load codes, with a modular base to assist.

“The design has a two-piece base, each meeting a certain windspeed. There’s no point of designing the product if a gust will blow it over. Each pole has a second add-on to give it additional protection against wind if needed,” Mr. Hotchkin says.

Mr. Hotchkin says the lights have been very popular, selling hundreds of them to various businesses and rental/hire companies.

“We’ve looked at making sure they’re easy to transport and all the occupational health and safety regulations are met. The product has gone through fairly rigorous engineering and prototyping modifications to get to a point where we were happy with the design.”

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